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Restoring the American Dream
Many American families have not prospered in the new "knowledge economy." The layoffs, restructurings, and wage and benefit cuts that have followed the short-lived boom of the 1990s threaten our deeply held values of justice, fairness, family, and work. These values—and not those superficial ones political pollsters ask about—are the foundation of the American dream of good jobs, fair pay, and opportunities for all. In this call to action for families, business, labor, and government, Thomas Kochan outlines ways in which we can empower working families to earn a good living by doing satisfying work while still having time for family and community life.
We cannot make the transition to a knowledge economy, writes Kochan, with a workforce that is stressed, frustrated, and insecure. Businesses need to rebuild relationships with their employees based on trust. And working families need to take control of their own destinies. First, we can take action that goes beyond the workplace buzzwords flexible and family friendly to design systems that support productive work and healthy family life. We can invest in better basic education and life-long learning, and we can work toward strategies for creating and sustaining good jobs with portable benefits. We need organizations that value investors of human capital—their employees—as highly as they do investors of financial capital, and we need a renewed labor movement to give workers a stronger voice. Kochan lays out an agenda for working families in the twenty-first century that calls for business, labor, government, and workers to come together to make the changes that will allow us all to benefit from the new economy. The solution to our problems, he points out, is too important to be left to "the market."
About the Author
Thomas A. Kochan is George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. He is Codirector of both the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the Sloan School and the MIT Workplace Center. He is coauthor (with Paul Osterman, Richard M. Locke, and Michael J. Piore) of Working in America: A Blueprint for the New Labor Market (MIT Press, 2002).
—John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO
—Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Business School , and author, The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First